SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) earned the fiscal year 2018 Retention Excellence Award (REA) for demonstrating superior accomplishment in executing programs and policies which best enable Sailors to succeed in their careers.
The REA is a reward for outstanding retention of Sailors. The command is put through an inspection called the Command Information Program Review (CIPR). CIPR looks at all command programs that can affect retention and evaluates if certain benchmarks were met, including command career counselor programs, career development boards, reenlistment percentages and attrition percentages.
“For our first term Sailors, the Bonhomme Richard might be the only thing they know about the Navy other than boot camp and A-school,” said Senior Chief Navy Counselor Troy Beard, Bonhomme Richard’s career counselor. “Our enlistment percentages show that our command is doing something right. We’re able to maintain 75 percent of our Zone-A Sailors.”
A “Zone-A Sailor” is a Sailor that has been in the Navy for less than six years. In order to qualify for the REA, a command must achieve 35 percent reenlistment; Bonhomme Richard achieved 75 percent. In addition, a command must have overall 95 percent career development board completion, cannot fail to submit any career waypoints throughout the year, and must have an attrition percentage of less than 5 percent. Bonhomme Richard surpassed each checkpoint, landing in the 95th percentile overall.
“I believe for the Sailors who reenlisted, a big factor is our work environment; our command climate,” said Beard. “The numbers that we had speak for themselves. They were among the highest, and I believe a lot of that is because the Sailors love what they’re doing, they like where they’re at, and they want to continue to do it.”
Once a command has received the REA, they are authorized to paint their anchors gold and fly the retention excellence award pennant. Captain Rich LeBron, the commanding officer, Capt. Scott Thoroman, the executive officer, and Command Master Chief Joe Hernandez, the command master chief of Bonhomme Richard applied the first coat of paint to the anchor.
“Seeing our anchors go from haze grey to gold, for me personally, is a very proud moment,” said Hernandez. “I take pride in that because it isn’t just a single Sailor reenlisting, it’s a team effort, and I’m hoping the command climate that we’re setting plays a big part in that.”
Beard reiterated the importance of morale.
“Effort for this type of an award is command-wide,” said Beard. “All the way down to Sailors actually raising their right hand and reenlisting in the Navy; it’s not any one person that qualified us for the REA, it is an all-encompassing, command level, crew deserved type of award.”
USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) is currently at its homeport in San Diego.